March 27, 2014
Beyond Blocking: Social Media Schools – From Patrick Larkin & Beth Holland on Edudemic
This post first appeared on Edudemic.Social media pervades all aspects of modern society, particularly with the rapid influx of mobile devices. If used in meaningful and appropriate ways, it can transform a student's learning experience, improve communication with parents and community members, as well as support professional growth. However, teachers and administrators also confront the realities of opening up students to a global audience, and address real concerns about security, screentime, inappropriate behavior, and acceptable use. While the first instinct in schools and districts is often to block services such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even some blogging platforms, the positives of these tools often outweigh the negatives. When used well, social media tools connect all stakeholders in a school community in a ways that have never before been possible. In the past, the only real way to get a good grasp on what was happening on a daily basis was to physically spend time in the building - which, of course, is not a possibility unless you are a student or employee in the school. But now, if the educators in a school are savvy about sharing what is happening, amazing connections can be made by those both inside and outside of the learning community.
Expanding the School CommunityIn Burlington, MA the use of Twitter and other social media resources has allowed a 1:1 iPad initiative to expand faster than ever expected thanks to the connections staff and students have made with learners in other 1:1 communities. The ability to ask questions of others who had prior experience integrating 1:1 technology into their classrooms allowed the learning curve to be less drastic. In addition, connecting to this network of other learners from all over the world who are passionate about the integration of technology into learning environments has allowed for the ongoing sharing of best practices in an ever-changing environment. Another positive outcome of the adoption of social media tools in Burlington has been the increased communication and transparency about what happens across the district. People within the school community, and others who have an interest in following the happenings, can see stories and pictures on a daily basis. District blogs like the Burlington Public Schools Blog, and school-based blogs like the Pine Glen Principal’s Blog, give a daily glimpse into the engaging learning activities that are happening. The district also shares information on its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. The ease of access to information has allowed the district to manage a few emergency situations with much less parent and student anxiety due to the fact that stakeholders were able to have questions answered and situations clarified easily.
Tagging Daily LifeIn addition to publishing through specific school owned channels, through tagging, schools can expand the reach of their communication. From “The Voice” using hashtags to save contestants, to Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag parodies, the idea of curating ideas through tags that span social media has also expanded to schools and classrooms. Not only do hashtags categorize content, but they also allow schools, classrooms, and districts to curate communications from across social media - even if all stakeholders do not have a social media account. At PS10 in Brooklyn, NY, Chris Casal (@mr_casal) has created a number of hashtags to help connect his students and school to the broader community.
- #ps10bk - communicates information specific to the school building
- #ps10st - denotes that all tweets or posts were written, with supervision, by students from a teacher or school account.
- #ps10sw - showcases student work, activities, efforts and products